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It was a sea of green at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, as the crowd came out in big numbers to cheer for the home team in their final game of this season’s IPL. But barring Virat Kohli’s brilliance, the crowd had nothing to cheer for as the Royal Challengers Bangalore lost against the Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets. Dwayne Smith, as usual, started off in clinical fashion, setting up a perfect platform for the run-chase. After his departure, Faf du Plessis and captain MS Dhoni scaled the target in style with an unbeaten 75-run stand.
du Plessis, who has opened the innings for CSK in the last two games, said that he was enjoying his new role at the top of the order and admitted to batting at his best while facing the new ball. In this post-match chat, du Plessis speaks about his new role and the match-winning partnership with his captain.
Excerpts from his interview:
How important is this win for the Chennai Super Kings?
We had some real good momentum throughout the tournament and then kind of lost it in the last three games when things did not go our way. It was really necessary to find some sort of winning momentum before the Playoffs. With this win, we can forget about the earlier losses and focus on the important matches ahead. We played well tonight and now we have the momentum on our side. Enjoying your new role as an opener?
(Smiles) I really enjoy batting at the top of the order. I have really enjoyed opening the batting in the last two games where I can play normal cricket shots but still be very aggressive. Personally, I feel I am batting at my best when I am opening the batting. But having said that, this sport is not about individuals and it is what the team requires me to do. Obviously, when Brendon McCullum comes back, I would slide back to No.4 because of the balance of our side. I do not mind that and I will fit into what the team thinks is best.
How did you plan your innings after Dwayne Smith and Suresh Raina’s dismissals?
The wicket was getting a bit slower and the ball started turning a bit and it was really important not to lose wickets because we had lost Suresh Raina and Dwayne Smith. I was not trying to hit boundaries and was only trying to rotate the strike as much as possible when MS Dhoni walked in to bat. And when MS Dhoni decides to go for the kill, it is just hard to stop him.
How does it help to have MS dhoni bat at the other end?
It does help having Dhoni on the other side. When the ball is soft, it is harder to hit sixes, but you know Dhoni can do that. We worked well in that partnership. I knew he could hit and he knew that I was going to get him on strike for the majority of the time. He faced most of the balls in that partnership and I am very happy with that because he is destructive. It was a good combination to close the game down.
After the toil throughout the tournament, is this the time that matters the most?
We are really looking forward to giving our best in the games to follow. Chennai Super Kings is a side that plays well in the big games. We have been in a lot of finals and we will do what it takes to win the games that matter the most from now on.
It had been over a month since Ashish Nehra held the ball in his hand in this year’s IPL. The last time he played for his new franchise – Chennai Super Kings – was in Abu Dhabi, against Kings XI Punjab. Since then, Nehra has been going through rehabilitation to recover from a muscle tear that he sustained during one of his practice sessions.
But on Saturday night, it did not look like Nehra was coming back after an injury layoff. In his four overs, he picked up three wickets, which helped Chennai Super Kings restrict Royal Challengers Bangalore to 154. Thanks to the bowling effort, CSK registered a convincing eight-wicket victory to carry the winning momentum into the Playoffs. For Nehra, it was all about putting up a good show after being out of action for more than a month, and the three wickets he picked were like a cherry on the cake for the left-arm pacer.
In this post-match chat with IPLT20.com, Nehra speaks about his comeback and talks about how he hopes to put up more meaningful performances for his franchise in the games to come.
Excerpts from his interview:
Would you say it was satisfying to be amongst the wickets after your injury?
After the first game, I had a side strain and unfortunately I tore my abdomen muscle during one of the practice sessions. To be honest with you, I have only started bowling recently. I was not even bowling to the batsmen in the nets; I was only bowling to a single wicket during my bowling drills. If you keep all such things in mind and then look at my performance, I would say that it was a good show.
How tough is it to be out of action and then perform when asked to bowl against a strong batting line-up like RCB?
It is tough to bowl in the first few overs and at the death in T20s, especially in Bangalore where you have players like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. We all know that the wicket in Bangalore is a high-scoring one, and it was important to get wickets at regular intervals. When I was bowling up front, my whole motive was to take a wicket or two with the new ball so that the likes of Virat, AB and Yuvraj could face the new ball as much as possible. We thought this would also help the other bowlers to pick wickets with the new ball. It was all about applying yourself on the given day and it was quite nice to be among the wickets after a long injury layoff.
How did you plan to bowl to the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuvraj Singh?
I haven’t been watching too many games since I was busy with my rehab. But I would like to say that our performance analyst Lakshmi Narayanan helped me a lot with regards to planning to different batsmen in the RCB line-up. We worked out our plans for AB de Villiers and the rest of the batsmen, and it feels nice when the plan works.
Three wickets in your four overs; would you say it was a satisfying performance?
I would not say that I am completely satisfied with my performance. This is just the beginning and there are bigger games to follow and we need to focus on those. I would only be happy if the team can play well in the semi-final and the final, and I put up some notable performances in those games.